SHERLOCK – A SCANDAL IN BELGRAVIA
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Steven Moffat
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Lara Pulver, Andrew Scott and more.
I was lucky enough to be at the BFI for the Scandal in Belgravia screening back at the beginning of December. How I didn’t keel over and die from the awesomeness of it all is beyond me! So, here is my review/gushings of episdoe 1 of series 2, A Scandal In Belgravia. There are ALOT of spoilers so if you don’t want to know or haven’t seen it yet then look away now!
ALMOST NAKED SHERLOCK!
DEER STALKER HATS!
COMEDY MORIATY RINGTONES!
A BED SHEET!
THE BEST SMARTPHONE PASSWORD EVER!
Yes, they’re all here in this episode!
A Scandal in Belgravia is a absolutely cracking start to series 2. I was on the edge of my seat from the very first moment and stayed there until my arse went numb and the end titles appeared. (Actually, thats not fair – the BFI has THE comfiest cinema seats i have ever sat on so my bum didn’t go numb at all!)
The general plot line for A Scandal in Belgravia is that a blackmail issue is threatening to detroy the Monarchy so Mycroft enlists the help of Sherlock and John to solve the case. They soon find out that there is lot more to this than meets the eye and Sherlock is soon confronted with the delicious Irene Adler. Could this be the woman to best Holmes? Thrown into the mix is a bit of terrorism, conspiracy and rogue CIA agents. What more could you want?!
It begins, of course, back at the swimming pool were the The Great Game ended. Sherlock and Moriarty are facing off with John stuck in the middle after having ripped off the bomb vest. Clearly, Sherlock isn’t going to shoot him and nor will Moriaty have him shot. The tense stand off is soon interrupted by the Bee Gees song Stayin’ Alive which we soon discover is Moriaty’s ringtone. Priceless! Not perhaps the exciting, nerve wracking conclusion to the swimming pool scene that some people may have wanted or been expecting but it had the whole cinema roaring with laughter! The person on the other end of the phone however seems to be unsettling Moriarty. Could it be that he answers to a higher power? We don’t find out as Moriarty quickly says his goodbyes and leaves. Cue opening titles.
Due to Watson’s blog, a string of people are sat in 221b asking for Sherlock’s help. He dismisses most of them as boring, as you would expect. They go out on location for a few of them with welcome appearances from Lestrande, but Sherlock finds them all most tedious. At some point amidst this, Sherlock and John are leaving theatre where there is a a nod to the books with The Speckled Blone (originally The Speckled Band) and try to disguise themselves by wearing hats that they have found. It will please alot of Holmes fans to know that the hat that Sherlock picks up is the famous deerstalke
As Sherlock find these cases so tedious, Sherlock sends John out to a case out in the middle of nowhere with a laptop and a murder scene. They are commuinicating via webcam (with Sherlock wearing nothing but a bed sheet), to solve the unusual case of a man being seemingly murdered in the middle of the countryside with no murder weapon or apparant bullet wound. In the middle of all the back and forth between John and Sherlock, Mycroft’s goons arrive to escort Sherlock elsewhere. John is whisked away in a helicopter and Sherlock being Sherlock, flatly refuses to put on any clothes. In the next scene, Sherlock is sitting in a side room of Buckingham Palace in nothing but said bedsheet. Mycroft then arrives with a member of the Royal entourage and we learn that a ‘Lady of the Night’ has some very comprimising photographs of a senior Royal. They want Sherlock to get the photographs back. That lady is Irene Adler, dominatrix to the rich and powerful. The banter between Sherlock and his brother is, as ever, delightful and ends with Mycroft standing on the end of the bedsheet as Sherlock storms off almost revealing a completely naked Cumberbatch in Buckingham Palace! Needless to say, the cinema went a bit ferral at this point!
Now we come to Irene Adler. Lara Pulver puts in a stunning performance as The Woman. She is beautiful, graceful, devilishly clever and you truely eblieve that she is more than a match for Holmes. If you don’t fall utterly under her spell within the first 30 seconds then you are clearly dead inside! When Sherlock first meets Adler, she is completely naked save for a pair of stilettos and diamond earrings. Already outstmarting Sherlock so that he can’t deduce her in his usual fashion, he is on the backfoot from the off. She reveals that she isn’t holding the Royal in question to ransom, she is merely keeping the photographs as insurance should he ever need them at some point int he future. Sherlock is unable to obtain the information he has been sent to reclaim and into the mix are thrown rogue CIA agents who are seemingly also after information that Ms Adler has. Irene also seems to have been keeping an close eye on Sherlock as she knows about the case of the mysterious murder so Sherlock lets her do some deducing of her own. Sherlock then spends a good chunk of the epiosde trying to work out the password for Irene’s smart phone. It soon becomes apparant that Irene has more on her camera phone than just comprimising photographs otherwise why would Mycroft and the CIA be so interested? Could there be a breach of national security at stake? After all, Miss Adler knows alot of very powerful people.
Soon it is Christmas at 221b Baker Street. John has a new girlfriend, Molly and Lestrande are also there along with Mrs Hudson. Keep an eye out for John’s festive jumper – a real treat! Molly is the scene stealer here and she is soon clutching at heartstrings while Sherlock once again, without realising, utterly crushes her with his callous deducing of the way she has wrapped her gift. Poor Molly! While this is going on, it would seem that Miss Adler has left Sherock a gift of her own, the camera phone. Why would she do that if it was her life? Sherlock deduces that she must be dead otherwide she wouldn’t have let it out of her possession. Sherlock goes to identify her body with Mycroft. He confirms that it is her. There is then a very touching moment with Sherlock and Mycroft in a corridor of the hospital. Sherlock asks Mycroft as they watch a family get bad news: “Do you ever wonder if there is something wrong with us?” as they both feel nothing towards the grief stricken family at the end of the corridor. Sherlock then appears to fall into a depression after the death of Adler. He plays his violin incessently and even John and Mrs Hudson seem unable to shake him from his gloom. But is he greving for a possible lost love or merely for the loss of mind equal or greater than his own?
The build up to the finale of a Scandal in Belgravia is fast paced, heartfelt and cunning. When Mycroft learns that the important flight he has been orchestrating for months will be hijacked, he goes with the only option he has left – a ghost flight full of already dead people. Sherlock is shocked that his brother could go to such levels. Meanwhile, John discovers that Irene is not dead. In fact, she’s alive and well. John pleads with her to tell Sherlock but she won’t. Not that John should have worried as Sherlock, in true Holmes fashion, followed him and heard the entire thing.
The episode ends with Irene and Mycroft gloating that they have bested Sherlock. Irene gives her demands to Mycroft in exchange for the information on her phone. He agrees but she still refuses to give up the code – she still wants the insurance the information offers her. Sherlock then finally bests her for perhaps the first time in the epsiode by revealing that he has cracked the smart phone password: SHERLOCKED. He berates her for her sentimentality, clearly gloating that his apparant lack of emotion has won the day.
This episode is everything that Sherlock fans have been waiting for. I couldn’t get everything into this review as there is so much and I think that some of the reveals should be left for the viewer to discover. Mrs Hudson gets alot more screen time in this episode and that interaction between her and Sherlock is so touching. At one point, Sherlock comes home to find her tied to a chair by the rogue CIA agents. His rage is obvious and you see that out of all the people in his life, Mrs Hudson seems to be the only one that he openly cares for.
The other character that gets alot more screen time is Mycroft, with Mark Gatiss turning in a sublime performance as the other Holmes boy. We get to see a whole gamit of emotions from him such as anger, frustration, smug happiness and at one point, utter hopelessness.
Paul McGuigan has really outdone himself with the direction on A Scandal in Belgravia. His camera angles, sweeps and crane shots are delicious and all bring the whole script to life. The vertical bed scene alone is worth watching this epiosde for and really brings Moffats script bursting into life. And what a script! From the epic dialogue that Sherlock has to the tiny looks between character in the stage direction, Steven’s writing has truely reached new heights. Its slick, sharp and funny and how he gets so many plot lines and twists into just one epsiode is beyond me – He makes 90 minutes feel like a mere 20!
In my opinion, A Scandal In Belgravia blows A Study In Pink out of the water for a series opener and if this is the blueprint for the 2 episodes to come, my brains will be all over the walls of my front room by the time the series finishes airing.
You will be on the edge of your seat for the whole 90 minutes. You’ll laugh, you’ll shout, you may even cry a little (I did), but one thing you won’t be is disappointed. And for that, The Moff and his epically fantastic Sherlock team has my thanks!